István Kaszás

István Kaszás

István Kaszás was born on 10 December 1921 in Paks, his father was a slave judge, but died of a stroke in 1932. From then on, the family had serious financial difficulties. After graduation he applied to Ludovika, where he could study free of charge. He was commissioned an infantry lieutenant and in 1942 he was transferred to the 1st Motorized Rifle Regiment, where he held the rank of platoon and company commander. In August 1944, he was appointed deputy commander of the regiment's direct armoured machine gun company, in which capacity he left with the 1st Armoured Division for the campaign against Romania. He took part in the capture of Arad and the fighting in the Lowlands. On 8 October 1944, he was appointed assistant officer of the II Battalion.

At the end of December he was awarded the Sword Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit and the German Iron Cross, Second Class - according to his 1953 autobiography, he could not name the specific war deeds for which he was awarded. It is worth quoting from this document:

"The battalion no longer took part in the fighting in Buda. Those who remained were all scattered. The regiment still had a tribe at this time, which, as far as I know, was also vegetating. Parts of the battalion were still operating somewhere, because I remember visiting the battalion regiment once at that time and seeing some feverish work going on there. [...] As we were terrified of being captured, we wanted to escape together from the ring of Soviet troops. At night we searched for the gap, but it was nowhere to be found. So when the German troops broke through, we also got out in the gap that was created." Apart from the euphemistic description of the breakout, Kaszás's claims were corroborated by other recollections of the unit. Kaszás and a fellow soldier were captured at Pilisszentiván on 15 February 1945. During breakout he was probably the Hungarian military officer who made it the furthest, but did not get through.

In an interview with him in 1994, he also reported that from the beginning of 1945, the battalion as a unit had practically ceased to exist, and most of them tried to get civilian clothes, but he considered this unworthy. From then on, however, no one took part in combat, and there was no longer any contact with the division headquarters. He and about 10 of his subordinates spent the last weeks of the siege in the school on Batthyányi Street, where two women joined them. Late in the evening of 11 February, he stumbled through corpses to get out of the encirclement at Széll Kálmán Square. All the time he was with his friend Ensign Tivadar Karsay, with whom he had obtained a guard's coat and in which they could sleep. On the evening of the 12th they slept over Nagykovácsi, but here they were scattered. Then they lost their way for lack of a compass and spent their last night in a forester's lodge near Pilisszentiván with 15 German soldiers. They surrendered to the appearing Soviets without any resistance. At first they were barely guarded, and once when they were sent for water, the Soviet soldier refused to let them into his quarters, but he insisted, because "what if I am arrested and have no release papers." He retained his Iron Cross while a prisoner of war and only threw it away at home after someone denounced him for it.

Returning from prisoner of war in 1947, he worked as a labourer for a year, but was subsequently recalled to service by HM at his request. It must have helped that he joined the MKP in 1947, was downgraded to a candidate member in 1949 during the party membership reviews, but then became a full party member and maintained his party membership after 1957, and did a lot of party work until the first half of the 1950s. Most of his posts were linked to a military school. In 1955 he was awarded the Service Medal. His last post was at the Faculty of Military Engineering of the Technical University of Athens, of which he was the commander. During the revolution, he planned the removal of the revolutionary committee. In 1957, at his own request, he was transferred to the reserve reserve with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He then became head of the dean's office at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Technology, while he obtained a degree in foreign trade from the University of Economics and after 1960 worked as a salesman and chief lecturer at the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce.

It was not long before he was stripped of his rank in 1958. The HM Personnel Department discovered that he had not included all his 1944 decorations in his biography, and he was also classified as an 'infiltrated' class enemy and it was suggested that the BM should investigate his personal relationships more deeply. This suggestion was not accepted by the second instance committee, presumably in part because the first instance proposer had confused several facts about Kaszaszas, including accusing him of being a personal friend of Major General Béla Király, commander of the 1956 National Guard.